Dave Grohl and Butch Vig Reflect on Recording Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ in ‘The Smart Studios Story’
Despite the fact that Nirvana‘s Nevermind sounds like it couldn’t have possibly been created by mere mortals, it all came to exist in 1991 at a humble-looking studio in Wisconsin. Mega-producer and Garbage drummer Butch Vig co-founded the studio in 1983 to help local bands record, but it became the birthplace not only of Nevermind, but also Smashing Pumpkins’ Gish, L7’s Bricks Are Heavy and Everclear’s Sparks and Fade, among many others.
A new documentary about the studio, The Smart Studios Story, will premiere Wednesday (March 16) at the South by Southwest Film Festival, but you can watch a clip (below) in which people who were there for the recording of Nevermind reminisce about the impact the studio had on music.
“Really, the story is more about a scene, a snapshot of time in the Midwest and how we started the studio and the bands that came in were very underground, very do it yourself,” Vig told Billboard. “We were so far removed from the East Coast and West Coast we were left to our own devices, and slowly the bands that recorded there started to make some noise, which led to bands that exploded in the mainstream like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins.”
Vig also said the sessions for Nevermind – the album he said he never anticipated would “profoundly change” his life – were sometimes difficult. “Kurt (Cobain) would have intense mood swings and just shut down,” Vig said. “He would just go sit in a corner and disappear into his own space. Krist (Novoselic) would say, ‘He just goes into these moods and he’ll come out in awhile.’ So we’d find something to do for a couple hours, tweak the drums or work on bass sounds, and all of a sudden Kurt would pick up his guitar, ‘Let’s go.’ He’d be back, fully engaged. I just had to gauge when the timing ws right to go for takes.”
Check out a clip from The Smart Studios Story below.